Livingston Patch

Protesters Rally Against Verizon at Washington Park

More Than 50 Support NJ Citizen Action During Lunchtime Rally For Jobs.

Livingston Patch — Tuesday, November 29, 2011

By Brian Falzarano

Instead of taking his normal lunch hour, John Jones took a break from his job as a Verizon technician, stepped across Broad Street and joined more than 50 peaceful protesters Tuesday afternoon in Washington Park at the New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA) Rally for Jobs.

Jones was among several Verizon workers who spoke out and held signs protesting their employer. Specifically because the global communications company's workers in the Brick City have worked without a contract since August, and also because they said new hires are not given retirement benefits.

In addition, Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO New Jersey Legislative and Political Coordinator Seth Hahn reminded the protesters that Verizon employed 800 workers at 540 Broad St. a decade ago, a number that has since been halved.

And with Verizon putting the building it owns on the market, concerns were heightened among the workers on hand.

"I'm agitated," said Jones, who has worked for Verizon for 20 years. "They're not giving us a contract, the corporate greed that's all over, jobs ... especially in this city here, this city is suffering ... Eventually they should realize we really need a fair contract."

Hahn was among the guest speakers during the nearly 45-minute rally that included NJCA Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye and Lawrence Hamm, chairman of the People's Organization for Progress. As Salowe-Kaye passionately said that, "Newark needs jobs - good jobs," several who held signs saying "verigreedy wireless" and voiced their approval.

Standing off to the side observing was Verizon Vice President for External Affairs Sam Delgado, who contrasted several of the protesters' claims while saying negotiations between the company and its workers "are still going on."

Although several signs said the communications company did not pay taxes in 2011, Delgado said Verizon paid $2.5 billion in federal taxes and $3 million combined in both real estate and personal and property taxes.

Furthermore, Delgado called NJCA's claims his company does not help the Brick City "disparaging," claiming they gave NJCA $53,000 to support their income tax credit program and donated another $1.2 million to the Newark Public Library, the Newark Museum and NJPAC.

In addition, Delgado said while the building at 540 Broad St. is for sale, Verizon plans to stay in Newark.

"Our intention is to lease it back, lease back 10 floors," Delgado said. "That's the way we're going to structure and we'd be the main tenant in the building.

"We're not going anywhere," he added.

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